Witnesses of antiquity

Wonderful necklace with eight micromosaics with views of Rome in gold, around 1860

A trip to the Eternal City of Rome is not only today a great desire of many. Our ancestors were also driven to the Caput Mundi in every generation to discover the wonders of antiquity and the art treasures of Christianity, to marvel at them and to be enchanted by the charm of the metropolis on the Tiber. No wonder that souvenirs from Rome have also accompanied people since time immemorial. Probably the most beautiful testimony to this tradition is the micromosaic. This special kind of tiny mosaic as a jewellery object was a "must have" for every trip to Rome in the 19th century. Here we have a necklace that brings together eight of these vedute in gold: It is, and this is the special, exclusively ancient buildings, which we see here. The monuments of the popes like St. Peter's Basilica we look for here in vain. Often, the views of the city are a colourful mixture. Here, however, the former traveller decided for a selection of antique testimonies. We see, viewed from the castle: A view of the Roman Forum with the columns of Vespasian's Temple, the Pyramid of Cestius at Porta San Paolo, the Circular Temple of Hercules Victor at the Forum Boarium (long thought to be a temple of Vesta), the Colosseum, a view of the ruins of the temple of Venus and Roma, the Arch of Janus with its four equal faces at the Forum Boarium, the three columns of Aedes Castoris at the Forum Romanum and, lastly, the well-preserved temple of Portunus, god of the port, also at the Forum Boarium. The choice of viewpoints and the selection of views were passed down from generation to generation in the Roman workshops. Recurring motifs such as the Roman Forum are thus encountered in ever-similar ways throughout the 19th century. Other, less frequently selected views seem to have been copied again and again from engravings available in the workshops. In the present necklace, for example, this is the veduta of the temple of Venus and Roma on the slope of the Velia. The direct model here is a sheet from the Nuova raccolta di 100 vedutine antiche della città di Roma e sue vicinanze incise a bullino da Domenico Pronti, Rome 1795. Here the temple of the urban Roman tradition is still identified as "Tempio del Sole". The style of the necklace with its elegantly swinging connecting chains and the clear, simple settings of the mosaics allow us to date the piece to the years shortly after the middle of the century. A very comparable necklace can be found, for example, in Chiara Stefani: Ricordi in Micromosaico. Vedute e paesaggi per i viaggiatori del Grand Tour, Rome 2001, cat. no. 13, p. 56. The clasp of the piece was then renewed once in older times: thus the necklace closes securely again and it can be worn with confidence. The very well preserved necklace is a beautiful piece of European cultural history and a charming proof of the power of common history that has always united our countries.

The origin of the art of micromosaic lies in Rome. Here, more precisely in the Vatican, a workshop for mosaics made of glass blocks existed since the 16th century. Initially, this was done to protect the altarpieces in St. Peter's Basilica in a permanent form against the candle soot, moisture and dirt that the many pilgrims brought into the church. Later, after this task was completed, further copies of paintings were made as well as landscape representations in painting size. The idea of using this ultimately antique technique also for jewellery and for the decoration of craft objects arose at the end of the 18th century. Countless travellers from northern Europe arrived in the city as part of the Grand Tour, creating a huge demand for souvenirs. Not least to serve this market, a whole new art form emerged: micromosaics are small and portable, and were therefore particularly suited to being taken back home to the north. Since they also usually show the beauties of Rome or motifs from antiquity, their success as travel souvenirs is hardly surprising. The "invention" of the micromosaic is associated above all with Giacomo Raffaelli and Cesare Aguatti, who perfected this technique around 1775. They founded a tradition from which, until the end of the 19th century, mosaics were created with such a richness of detail and artistry that had never been achieved before or since. For even today, corresponding mosaics are produced in Rome, albeit in significantly lower quality. Cf. on the technique and history of micromosaics the relevant literature: Maria Grazia Branchetti: Mosaici minuti romani, Rome 2004, with many works by Giacomo Raffaelli, as well as Roberto Grieco/Arianna Gambino: Roman Mosaic. L'arte del micromosaico fra '700 e '800, Milan 2001.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.